Outside our back door there is a spider that is disgustingly huge. I’m talking half-dollar size. Surprisingly, I haven’t been seeing the spider as being disgusting, however, which is very unlike my squeamish, bug-fearing self. I take that back, I’m not afraid of all bugs. I think cool bugs like stick bugs and leaf bugs and caterpillars and grasshoppers are cool, but the spiders and the cockroaches and the ants? No, thank you. This spider, though, is actually fascinating. He is large—filled with all the mosquitoes that we despise, and has spun the most intricate and beautiful web!
The other day, when Gabe was mundanely taking out the recycling, he decided to throw a stink bug into the web to see what the spider did. Martell and I came to see, and the spider began wrapping up the bug immediately—he was pulling parts of his beautiful web to spin around the stink bug until there was a gaping hole in the net where he had used his work of art to capture his prey. This is no Charlotte, delicate and docile. This spider is fierce and hard-working; strong and calculated.
“He’s hungry?” Martell asked sweetly.
“He sure is, buddy!” we responded, infatuated with the simplicity with which he sees the world around him.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about our lives that are metaphorically like these intricately spun webs—beautiful yet messy, delicate but strong, busy and at the same time lonely. Each day we are faced with decisions—some days are so planned that decisions are seemingly made for us. But in each moment we have a decision to make—this park or that? This commute or that one? Patience or frustration? Clean it up now or later? Talk to this stranger or not? This outfit or that one? Tiny little decisions over and over again, that we don’t even realize that we’re making them sometimes. But each little one leads us a little bit until the strings of them have taken us to new places altogether.
A series of choices have lead me to this place where I am at home with my kids—a place I love being. Each day feels like we have endless possibilities for things to do and others I feel paralyzed by the number of decisions I have to make on behalf of the littles who need a strong leader day in and day out. Because I have these little lives depending on me, the ways I plan and respond and choose always feel a little bit weightier—what are the things that I need to have on the table and which ones do I need to push off of the table?
Each thing I choose to take part in—each relationship, activity, commitment, study, book, etc. all affect my web—they leave gaping holes in my energy and time and home. Which commitments are going to give me the ability to repair the hole as the spider did—back and more beautiful than before? Which ones are going to strengthen me and encourage me fiercely towards growing in my strengths? Which ones are going to empower me to do my job as “mom” and “wife” and “writer” more mightily, and which are going to drain me quickly of my ability and energy?
I’m learning how to do me. I’m learning how to say “no” in protection of my limited heart and when to say “yes” in courage. It is so easy for me to look left and right to see what friends are doing or compare their yesses with mine and their nos with my nos. Not only am I learning to assert what is actually best for me, but I’m learning to love who God made me to be. Sometimes methodical, sometimes whimsical; sometimes fierce, sometimes clinging strongly to a still heart; sometimes consistent other times unpredictable; sometimes light-hearted, sometimes lost in a haze of depth.
In a life that is a constant ebb and flow of sorrow and sun, may we choose wisely and confidently to walk in the strengths that the Lord has so purposefully ordained for each of us. You have a purpose different from mine, and I’m over here cheering you on in the pursuit of being your best self.